Barcelona winner Pastor Maldonado has gone from F1 glory to back-of-the-field ignominy in the space of less than two weeks. But as Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport reports, the Venezuelan – who last time out in Spain broke through with Williams’ first win in seven years – is lucky to be on Sunday’s grid at all.
The FIA stewards, including 1992 world champion Nigel Mansell, imposed a severe ten-place grid penalty after ruling that the 27-year-old deliberately swerved into Sergio Perez during practice. Maldonado insists the crash was not revenge but simply a driving mistake on a slippery track.
Team shareholder Toto Wolff even confronted Mansell about the apparent harshness of the penalty, to which Mansell reportedly replied: “Be happy that he’s even racing. We were close to excluding him for the whole event,” the former Williams driver reportedly told Wolff.
The final misery for Maldonado, who actually qualified ninth, is yet another grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change, as the result of damage following his post-Perez collision crash. He will line up 24th and last.